Define Contra Asset Account

The accumulated depreciation account plays a vital role in representing the accurate value of an asset in the financial statements. Contra asset accounts get their name “contra” because they include a credit balance. These go against the normal asset accounts, which have a debit balance. In essence, contra asset accounts have a negative balance while other asset accounts have a positive balance. Both of these accounts offset each other to represent a net balance on a company’s balance sheet. Overall, contra accounts are offsetting balances that are the opposite of specific accounts.

Define Contra Asset Account

Subtract the asset’s salvage value from its purchase price to get the amount that can be depreciated. A balance sheet is a financial statement that provides an organized look at businesses’ assets in relation to the liabilities and equity. Explore the purpose of a balance sheet, its components, and presentation format, wherein both sides must be equal. Accumulated Depreciation is the total depreciation expense on a plant asset from the start of it being used in the business until the present day. Accumulated Depreciation is deducted the plant assets cost to get its book value. Definition of Prepaid Expenses In other words, prepaid expenses are costs that have been paid but are not yet used up or have not yet expired.

Contra Accounts & Accumulated Depreciation

The balance sheet would report equipment at its historical cost and then subtract the accumulated depreciation. The sales discounts contra revenue account records the discounts given to customers on sales made to them, normally a cash or settlement discount. Another example of a contra asset account is the accumulated depreciation account which reduces the reporting value of capital assets. Allowance for obsolete inventory or obsolete inventory reserve are also examples of contra asset accounts. Sales returns is a contra revenue account as the figure is a negative amount net against total sales revenue.

After each accounting period, the company records a depreciation expense of the asset. On the balance sheet, the allowance for doubtful accounts can reduce the totals in the business’s accounts receivable. A less common example of a contra asset account is Discount on Notes Receivable. The credit balance in this contra asset account account is amortized or allocated to Interest Income or Interest Revenue over the life of a note receivable. Contra accounts are used to reduce the value of the original account directly to keep financial accounting records clean. Again, accumulated depreciation reduced fixed and capital asset balances.

It breaks-out all the Income and expense accounts that were summarized in Retained Earnings. The Profit and Loss report is important in that it shows the detail of sales, cost of cash basis sales, expenses and ultimately the profit of the company. Most companies rely heavily on the profit and loss report and review it regularly to enable strategic decision making.


The total decrease in the value of an asset on the balance sheet over time is accumulated depreciation. The values of all assets of any type are put together on a balance sheet rather than each individual asset being recorded. A contra asset is a negative asset account that offsets the balance in the asset account with which it is paired. Allowance for doubtful debt is a contra account against which bad debts are charged. Another advantage of a sinking fund is that it may allow a company to enjoy capital gain benefits. When a company retires a bond, it can record a capital gain transaction if it bought the bond on the open market for less than the bond’s book value. When bond sinking fund on balance sheet a company establishes a sinking fund, it places money in a separate account for the purpose of retiring or repaying its bonds.

  • The bad debt, or allowance for doubtful accounts has a credit balance to offset the value of accounts receivable.
  • Through the sinking fund, the company saves up money to extinguish that debt.
  • For one, listing assets and examples of negative assets separately provides more information.
  • Accumulated depreciation accounts accumulate the depreciation expense charged on the asset.
  • However, these can cause a reduction to other balances on the statement.

A contra account makes allowances for payments in the form of products or services rather than cash. We’ll define contra below as well as discuss how to record a contra normal balance invoice in your accounts. In a balance sheet, accumulated depreciation would be reflected as a reduction from the asset’s account so that the net balance is evident.

In some cases, a company may face financial issues that jeopardize its ability to repay its debt obligations to investors. A provision in some bond indentures requiring the issuer to put money aside to repay bondholders at maturity. In bonds with such a provision, a fund or account is set up into which an issuer deposits money on a regular basis to repay the bond when it matures.

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In the direct write-off method, bad debt expense is charged when these are incurred. The accounting entry for this is debit, bad debt expense and credit to accounts receivable. Here, accounts receivable are decreased in the period when bad debt expense is incurred. However, bad debt expense can arise to the sales made in earlier periods. This discount is subtracted from the total amount borrowed to better reflect the discount given by the lender. Operating revenue is revenue you receive from your business’s main activities, like sales. Contra revenue account list If you own a landscaping company, your business’s operating revenue is derived from your services.

The natural balance in a contra asset account is a credit balance, as opposed to the natural debit balance in all other asset accounts. With each debit to the depreciation expense account, a corresponding credit is created in the accumulated depreciation account. The fixed asset account tracks the cost.The fixed asset account minus accumulated depreciation is used to calculate the book value. These are both asset accounts and do not increase or decrease a company’s balance sheet.

Form M-4, Massachusetts Employee’s Withholding Exemption Certificate. This form is used to determine the amount of state income taxes to be withheld. Eliminate compliance worries related to those cumbersome and ever-changing federal, state, and most local payroll tax computations and filing requirements. Stop wasting your valuable time on that tedious chore of doing payroll. With ADP, your payroll is done for you quickly and accurately, with less time and effort on your part. Annual sinking fund is a calculation of the annual sum required to be invested to amount to £1 in a specified number of years.

Define Contra Asset Account

Contra asset accounts are necessary for companies for various reasons. Contra Liability a/c is not used as frequently as contra asset accounts. It is not classified as a liability since it does not represent a future obligation. In double entry bookkeeping, debits and credits are entries made in account ledgers to record changes in value resulting from business transactions. A debit entry in an account represents a transfer of value to that account, and a credit entry represents a transfer from the account. Although contra asset accounts have credit balances, they do not appear in liabilities or equity.

What Are The Benefits Of Factoring Your Account Receivable?

The lender may offer the company a discount if it repays the note early. The discount on notes payable reduces the total amount of the note to reflect the discount given by the lender.

If the bond’s stated rate is less than the current market rate, the purchase price is lower than the face amount and the bond is purchased at a discount. They wouldn’t know any of that if you just subtracted depreciation and recorded only the asset’s net value. Contra liabilities are common in companies that sell bonds to raise capital. To drum up interest in the bond, the company will sell it at a discount. For example, a bond with a principal amount of $1,000 may be sold for only $950. The bond is listed on the balance sheet at the full amount of $1,000, but the cash received is just $950, so a contra liability for the discount is listed to make the entry balance.

  • When examining the term “contra asset account,” look no further than the root of contra to get a vague grasp of the definition.
  • In this method, bad debt expense is estimated for the period and is recorded as an expense while the allowance account is credited.
  • Any concerns should be addressed directly to the individual financial institution.
  • Contra accounts can get buried in the footnotes of financial statements, but they could be a key piece of your investigation into a growth stock’s prospects.
  • Contra asset accounts are recorded with a credit balance that decreases the balance of an asset.

Allowance for doubtful debts accounts are opposite to accounts receivable accounts. Accounts receivable are the customers to whom an organization had sold goods or provided services on credit. Thus, accounts receivable are assets generated in the ordinary course of business.

What Is The Importance Of Contra Asset Accounts?

Generally, the amount of prepaid expenses that will be used up within one year are reported on a company’s balance sheet as a current asset. Accumulated DepreciationThe accumulated depreciation of an asset is the amount of cumulative depreciation charged on the asset from its purchase date until the reporting date. Treasury stock and drawing accounts are examples of contra equity accounts. This type of account can equalize balances in the asset account that it is paired with on a business’s balance sheet. The contra asset account has credited balances that can reduce the balance in its paired asset account.

Define Contra Asset Account

Companies may use a financial statement disclosure to identify and describe the use of a contra asset account. The accumulated depreciation for an asset or group of assets increases over time as depreciation expenses are credited against the assets. In this method, bad debt expense is estimated for the period and is recorded as an expense while the allowance account is credited. Accounting utilizes journals, which are books documenting all business transactions, and also trial balance, which is a list of all business accounts. Discover what goes into these meticulous ways of keeping records and the significance of journal entries and trial balance to accurate accounting. Doube-entry accounting ensures that the total amount of debits equals the total amount of credits.

Most accounts receivable would just be the time between purchase and credit card settlement. Contra accounts can get buried in the footnotes of financial statements, but they could be a key piece of your investigation into a growth stock’s prospects. Accumulated amortization is an account similar to accumulated depreciation. This account only relates to a company’s intangible assets rather than tangible.

Apple breaks out its amount of property, plant, and equipment (PP&E) and then lists its accumulated deprecation that reduces the PP&E figure. Note that accountants use contra accounts rather than reduce the value of the original account directly to keep financial accounting records clean. A contra entry is recorded when the debit and credit affect the same parent account and resulting in a net zero effect to the account.

Contra Asset Account – A contra asset account is an asset that carries a credit balance and is used to decrease the balance of another asset on the balance. Contra RevenueContra revenue refers to any difference between a company’s gross sales and net sales due to sales returns, allowances or discount. Recording Contra Accounts When a contra asset account is first recorded in a journal entry, the offset is to an expense. For example, an increase in the form of a credit to allowance for doubtful accounts is also recorded as a debit to increase bad debt expense.

When a company sells its products or services to customers on credit, the company records the amount sold in its accounts receivable account. As asset accounts have debit balances, contra asset account will have credit balance. This is done in order to separate data in these accounts for the analysis and presentation purposes. A contra account is used for account classification and is also reported in a company’s financial statement alongside its corresponding or related account. When reporting a contra account in a company’s financial statement, it is reported immediately below the account it relates to or corresponds. Contra accounts have different names depending on the account they correspond. For instance, a contra account that relates to an accounts receivable is called a contra asset account.